Roberto Martinez, the Everton manager, has gone from hero to zero in three years and there is a feeling at Goodison Park that the Spaniard could be sacked at the end of this season.
The situation for Martinez has intensified given that the Toffees have a new majority owner in Farhad Moshiri who purchased 49.9% of the club in February. It’s common knowledge that even after Everton’s miserable season, Martinez’s job would have normally been rock solid.
Just look at Everton’s previous manager David Moyes whose job was never in doubt even though he led the Blues to such forgettable seasons such as in 2003/04 where the club finished just one place above the relegation zone. In the 2005/06 campaign the Toffees were listless for much of the season as they finished in 11th place. But in those two seasons alone, Moyes was in charge of a team that lost 33 games. But his job was never in doubt.
The truth is that Martinez has been a minor success at the club. In his first season, Everton finished in 5th place and achieved a Premier League club record haul of points with 72. But the following season brought only a mid-table finish. Currently the club are in 11th place and, apart from an exciting FA Cup run and striker Romelu Lukaku’s goals, this has been yet another season to forget.
The problem for the fans has been simple – the terrible record at home. By Christmas, Martinez was bemoaning the club’s lack of luck, claiming that the side were playing good football but were not getting the rub of the green.
On reflection, this seemed like a desperate call because the hard facts are that Everton have won just 4 games at home all season. From a possible 51 points, they have won 17. They are averaging a point a game at Goodison. And if home form was based on a league table, they would be in 19th place and going down.
Moshiri’s influence will be huge. He may have been taking advice from long serving club chairman and fan Bill Kenwright, but Moshiri will want to enforce his own vision on the team and it is likely to start with Martinez’s exit.
But should Martinez be sacked, who should replace him? Fans took to Martinez right away after he spent time researching the club’s history on his appointment. He understood perfectly the philosophy of the club. Just the same way that his countryman Rafa Benitez did at rivals Liverpool. Even more than early results, this integration secured for Martinez the fans’ trust in him.
Of course, the passion can only take you so far or otherwise we would be having fans as managers. And once the club’s form dipped, so did the fans’ belief in the manager.
The one disadvantage that hangs over Martinez’s stay like a constant black cloud that won’t shift is that he has already presided over a team who were relegated in Wigan Athletic. The mere thought of relegation for Everton fans is something most of them can’t bear thinking about since the club haven’t tasted second tier football in over 60 years.
If Martinez is sacked, there are certainly many candidates who would be lining up. If Moshiri chooses a British manager, there is Garry Monk, who showed lots of promise albeit like Martinez early on at Swansea.
Then there is, of course, David Moyes, but the old saying of never go back has held quite true in soccer. Even in the 1990s, when Everton reappointed Howard Kendall, it all went wrong and they repeated that trick again with the same manager which was akin to adding oil to fire. Nostalgia aside, this rarely works.
Moshiri may be tempted though to bring in a European manager who has had experience possibly in Serie A or La Liga. There was much hype surrounding Rudi Garcia at Roma but some choice results saw the 52 year old sacked at the beginning of the year.
Whilst the likes of Jose Mourinho, who is still searching for a job, are well out of reach for the Blues, his apprentice Andre Villas-Boas could be a shrewd deal for the club. AVB has had much success at Zenit Saint Petersburg since leaving the Premier League, but he has plenty of experience coaching in England and this could work in Everton’s favor.
If Moshiri sees fit to sack Martinez, this could be a turning point for the club and their expectations especially given that they have only had 19 full time managers in 128 years. The club may become more cutthroat, but maybe that is just a sign of the times. The bitter truth is that Martinez is liked for his commitment to the club but at this moment little else.
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